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What You Do For Your Business Online Matters | Part One: The Social Media Machine


Introduction to the Social Media Machine and Referral Traffic

Search Engines drive 94% of all website traffic. And drumroll please . . . 94% of that search engine traffic is Google. 90% of searchers haven’t made up their mind about a brand when they start their search, and 50% of people are more likely to click on a brand name if that brand name shows up more than once in a search result.

There is a machine in play behind the scenes of any search results you see and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. The Social Media Machine.

“Wait, I’m confused, are we talking about Google or Social?” is probably what you’re thinking. And I’m here to tell you that it’s not about one or other. It’s about how they work together.

Google really only cares about a few things. No matter what new algorithm they come up with and no matter what trends they’re trying to stay on top of, Google’s Search functionality really only relies on these three core values:

Proximity to the Searcher

Prominence of the Website/Brand in the Results

Relevancy of the Result to the Inquiry

Proximity is easy to explain. If you’re searching for a marketing agency and you’re searching from a computer in Round Rock, TX, we’re going to come up as an option because we’re the nearest local choice. We come up less frequently to searchers in South Austin because of a business location.

Prominence explains why you won’t rank often for broad search terms. It’s because Google favors directory and information sites. They also favor .org; .gov and .edu sites for general information. It’s why Yelp and Home Advisor rank so high that it’s hard for your local plumber to get on the first page because there are so many home services ranking sites and even very large plumbing businesses that are hogging the first page.

I feel bad for the doctors who want to compete for search terms related to the conditions they treat. Their potential patients are going to sites like Healthline and WebMD instead of local results to read more.

Relevancy – this is the ONE area of search that you’re 100% of control of. Google favors businesses with an active online presence that people are talking about, searching for and clicking on. Google likes sites that have lots of direct traffic or referral traffic (meaning you clicked to get to the site from another site). To Google, this is proof of the relevancy of your site to the searcher. They’ll rank sites with traffic above sites that don’t get a lot of traffic.

Another way to show Google relevancy is through the length of time spent on your website. If people visit your site and then immediately leave, that tells Google, “Not Relevant – or Bad Information.” Getting people to stay a long time on your site is another way to tell Google, I have good stuff that other people will like.

Your Goal in Online Marketing:

Establish Your Business as the Most Relevant and Obvious Choice Online

Your strategy for achieving this goal is to build a social media machine that sends traffic to a great website with a memorable brand and loads of great content.

You’ll measure this by:

  1. Website Traffic from Referral Sites
  2. Return Visits to the Site
  3. Length of Time Spent on the Website

First in this series of articles, we’re going to talk about:

Website Traffic from Referral Sites

You can get referral traffic a number of ways, but the most popular way to get referral traffic is by

  • Social Media Sites
  • Backlinks
    • Other sites that rank for your keyword terms (usually review sites)
    • Publication Sites (like magazines, blogs or business’s the publish content regularly)

Let’s explore Social Media more in-depth first:

It’s no surprise that we’re getting a lot of information from social media these days. It’s our news site, it’s our way to stay in-touch with friends and family and it’s where 50-60% of advertising dollars are spent by large AND small businesses.

Myths about Social Media

  • Social Media is Free
    I think most people realize that this isn’t true anymore. When businesses first started with social media marketing 6-7 years ago, everyone spoke about it being a free way to advertise, but the truth is it takes a lot of time, creativity, and advertising dollars to do social media campaigns for your business.
  • You Need to Be on All Social Media All the Time
    There are HUNDREDS of social media sites. But there’s probably 10-15 you hear about all the time: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, NextDoor, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Google+, YouTube, Reddit . . . Can you imagine how many hours a day it would take to create content for all of these sites, manage them, and do ad campaigns on all of them? Not even large brands spread themselves so thin.
  • You Need a Lot of Social Media Followers for It to Work
    In social media, it’s much more about quality over quantity. As much as it feels like a popularity contest, it isn’t. Any of you practice yoga? You can be in a yoga class and doing your own flow and it’s going well. The moment you start watching the person next to you, you will lose your balance and fall. Social media is about finding your niche of fans and playing to them. If you have 10 passionate followers that share your content all of the time, it’s better than 100 followers that ignore your content.

Choosing Your Social Media Platforms

Facebook is an obvious choice for your business, regardless of type of business. Everyone and their mom, literally, is on Facebook nowadays. It’s share of the market is incredible and their advertising platform is the envy of the industry. All of that data they’re having trouble protecting is incredibly useful for business owners and marketers.

LinkedIn is an obvious choice if you’re doing B2B sales.

The rest is kind of up to what you know about your audience and how ahead of the curve you want to be.

  • 59% of adults between 18 and 29are using Instagram.
  • 86% of women will look at social media before deciding to make a purchase.
  • 60% of smartphone users between the ages of 13 – 34 are using SnapChat.
  • 81% of millennials are checking Twitter at least once a day. The average amount of search queries Twitter receives a day is two billion.
  • Pinterest is the single most popular referral source for websites from a mobile device. Think recipes, blogs, shopping – things people look up at home to help them with their everyday lives.

The most important rule in choosing what platforms you want to manage is that you choose based on what you can be consistent with. Posting twice on Twitter and then forgetting you have the account for 4 months and then suddenly tweeting again isn’t going to gain you any referral traffic from Twitter. You must commit to consistency.

Creating Content

64% of online shoppers say that a video on social media helped them make their decision.

But before you run out and start making a bunch of random video content for your business. It’s important that you make content that your audience will like. That’s most important. Your content needs to:

  • Add Value to Their Lives
  • Be Easy to Understand
  • Trigger an Emotional Response
  • Appeal to a Personality Trait You Know About Them
  • Be Funny
  • Incentivize Them to Do More with Your Content than Just Look at It

It may not be a video that accomplishes what you want them to do. It might be a contest, a coupon with a cute graphic, it might be an infographic, a link to a website or a meme.

Managing a Schedule

After you’ve put together some ideas about your content, it’s time to schedule it. While some content happens in the moment, maybe like photos from an event or a live stream, most of your social media content can be created in advance and then scheduled.

People start screwing around at work after lunch – this ends up being a very optimal time to post. The other most popular times are first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. Social media has replaced our newspaper reading routine.

The most important rule in scheduling your posts is you want to manage is that you BE CONSISTENT.

A consistent presence on social media also drives returning traffic to your site. It’s a by-product of a good social program. We’ll get into returning traffic in a little bit.

In search engine optimization, backlinks are the gold mine for increasing your organic rank on Google. Backlinks are the ultimate relevancy indicator – basically, another business or website or publication has declared your site a resource.

You have two sources for backlinks:

  • Other sites that rank for your keyword terms (usually review sites)
  • Publication Sites (like magazines, blogs or business’s the publish content regularly)

Review Sites:

Next time you’re working on your marketing, do a little research and google, “Best __________ in Austin.” And let’s see what comes up. Page one of your Google results are going to be all the websites you should have your business listed on. These are usually review sites, but they might be sites that give awards to good companies or a directory of businesses in that category. Whatever they are, if your competitors are on there, it means they’re getting that business and not you, so you better be listed on that site.

Reviews Feed a Marketing Loop that You Don’t Want to Miss Out On:

  • 88% of people trust an online review as much as an in-person recommendation.
  • 14% of people use a company with 1-2 Stars. 57% of people would use a company with 3 stars. 94% would use a company with 4-5 Stars.
  • Consumers might look at up to 10 sources of reviews, recommendations and lists before making the decision to purchase.

Publications Sites:

The other way to get relevant backlink referral traffic to the site is by writing content for other websites that let you link back to your site. If you’re a window coverings company, you might want to contribute an article to an interior design blog. Or you can sponsor content on sites that you think have relevant referrals to send your way. Nonprofits, community groups,and publications, events all might have opportunities for your business.

It’s not just a link, but it’s branding. Your logo, your face, your business’s name appearing online in more places than one.

To get all the pieces to work together, you need a strong digital marketing strategy.

Next Month – we tackle Return Traffic and Time Spent on the Website

  1. Website Traffic from Referral Sites – DONE!
  2. Return Visits to the Site – Next Month
  3. Length of Time Spent on the Website – Next Month

Goal: Website Traffic from Organic Search